Floating Reed Islands on Lake Titicaca

Puno Travel Blog

 › entry 58 of 92 › view all entries
Beautiful Lake Titicaca from the back of our boat

On our way back from the homestay we stopped at the floating reed islands, which were for me the highlight of the whole time spent on and around Lake Titicaca. 

These are amazing structures which the local islands have been creating and living on for generations over hundreds and hundreds of years.  They were initially created as a way of escaping invading foces - a great way of saying ´fine have our land but I´m going to build myself an island and float over here where you can´t get me!´

On the first island we were shown how they were constructed with reeds harvested from the masses growing all around the islands in this part of the lake.  The reeds are laid on top of old reeds that have decomposed into almost solid earth, and take about 7 years to make I think (from memory).

A traditional reed home with communal cooker in front!
  There are approximately 50 islands, but they only last for about 100 years at which time another has to be built and everyone from the old island moves onto this new one.  The islands are then archored to groups of reeds close-by, to stop them simply floating off just anywhere.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the islands is the islanders abilty to deal with clonflict - if there is a problem with a neighbouring island they simply loosen the anchoring ropes and float further away.  And most amazingly, if there is a conflict between people on the island they simply get the saw out and chop the whole thing in half!!  In this way about 2 new islands on average are created each year!  On the second island I was interested in buying some of the local weavings and started bargaining with 2 different traders.

An ornate reed boat used to transport us to a neighbouring island
  When I chose one over the other we joked that they might start an argument about the profits and end up getting the saw out!  I hope not.

The islands were amazingly atmospheric places, with a great sense of freedom that came form their impermanence and abilty to be easily moved if required.  They were so different from any other type of community I´ve seen, almost totally at one with nature and dependent on their surroundings to survive.  They even had solar panels to catch the light and gain enough electricity to power a small TV.  I have to admit that I was tempted to move there!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Beautiful Lake Titicaca from the b…
Beautiful Lake Titicaca from the …
A traditional reed home with commu…
A traditional reed home with comm…
An ornate reed boat used to transp…
An ornate reed boat used to trans…
Me and the reed island, good choic…
Me and the reed island, good choi…
Two-way traffic in the reed roads!
Two-way traffic in the reed roads!
Reed houses on the wonderful reed …
Reed houses on the wonderful reed…
A reed house asnd women cooking to…
A reed house asnd women cooking t…
A rough demonstration of how the i…
A rough demonstration of how the …
Puno
photo by: lrecht